Shoe, Leather and Accessory Glossary
An Apron toe can be recognized by the visible edges or stitching that finishes off the toe and forms a sort of apron along the shoe's front.
A shoe tongue that is attached to the shoe at the sides as well as at the bottom. Used in walking boots and some country styles to keep out debris and improve waterproofing.
In a shoe that is Blake stitched, the sole is attached directly to the upper of the shoe, rather than to an intermediary welt. This makes for a lightweight shoe with the sole thinner and more flexible, but by definition less robust.
The blucher is similar to the Derby shoe. They both feature 'open throat' lacing, but with the blucher, the uppers are constructed from a single cut - with just small eyelet facings being sown on - in contrast to the larger sown on facings in the Derby.
The blucher is named after the 18th-century Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher who wanted more comfortable footwear for his troops. This design was adopted by armies across Europe.
Full BrogueThe image to the left is a classic full brogue Grenson Archie. A full brogue has a pointed toe cap with extensions (or wings) which run down the site of the shoe. The toe cap is perforated in patterns and has a serrated edge.
Semi Brogue or Half BrogueThe semi-brogue has a less elaborate toe cap with a serrated edge and is decorated with perforations.
Quarter BrogueThe quarter brogue has a toe cap with a perforated and serrated edge, but the toe itself is not decorated.
A process where the shoe surface is buffed to achieve an antiquing effect of the leather, a type of leather finish that creates a contrasting, rubbed-off appearance with variation of shade.
The skin of very young cattle which offers fine grain, suppleness and exceptional durability. A versatile leather that can be used for virtually every type of shoe.
Calf leather tends to retain it's colour and is often considered to improve in appearance with age.
Rubber sole unit in a pattern tried and trusted by the military. The sole is also popular in many country style shoes, and has also become a fashion feature.
The grip provides good wear and grip characteristics as well as cushioning.
Known for its non-porosity, density, and good wearing characteristics, Cordovan leather is used in the manufacture of fine shoes. The name derives from Cordoba, Spain, where the leather was first produced. A soft, fine-grained, coloured leather produced mainly from the shell of a horse butt.
Leather which has been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections. The outermost layer is sanded down or scraped away revealing a uniform surface below which may then be pigmented or have a synthetic polymer applied.
A shoe with two side panels or "quarters" which are laced together over the tongue. The lacing is 'open-throat' (not stitched together at the bottom) and allows for more adjustment or 'give' around the instep than 'closed-throat' 'Oxford' 'V'-shaped lacing. Also known as a Gibson. The Blucher is a similar style of construction.
After drying out the leather after tanning the leather is dressed. This could involve: 1. Completely softening the leather (taking out any area of hardness that may be left in). This is achieved by hand or machine process called staking, in which the leather is flexed and pulled. 2. Final colouring. 3. Buffing up the flesh side with abrasives to produce a nap finish (suede). 4. Rolling and glazing to produce a high gloss by flattening out and smoothing the grain surface (grain leather). 5. Pigmenting the leather to cover outstanding imperfections. 6. Correcting grain side leather by abrading the grain surface to give a more uniform and less marked appearance. 7. Patented polyurethane finishes which produce easy care - 'wipe clean' and 'wet look' leathers.
With reference to shoe fittings or widths of the manufacturers on our website C or D narrow E or Ex slightly more narrow than the average 5 or F average Fx slightly wider than the average 6 or G wide GX slightly wider still H extra wide
Skins where only the hair has been removed, leaving the natural surface grain unchanged.
A traditional method of manufacturing, which provides a shoe that will give comfort, excellent shape retention, water resistance and repairable properties. Widely regarded as the best way of putting together the components in a premium quality leather shoe.
The essence of this construction is that the upper is shaped over the last and secured by sewing a strip of leather or 'welt' to the upper and inner sole. The process is then completed by separately attaching a sole to the welt.
The more a Goodyear Welted shoe is worn, the more comfortable it becomes as the leather components gradually mould to the shape of the foot. And because the components are stitched rather than glued together, all the natural properties of the leather are retained, giving improved thermal insulation, durability, flexibility and shape retention, as well as the best possible breathing conditions for feet. It is also possible to re-sole a pair of worn Goodyear Welted shoes or boots by stitching new soles to the existing welts, thereby increasing their life expectancy.
(Photo Credit CrockettandJones.com)
Oak bark tanned leather soles made by Joh. Rendenbach Jr & Co.
The leather tanned by this process takes up to nine months during which the hides are placed in oak bark lined pits. The process has been in use for over 140 years.
JR soles are renowned for their flexibility and therefore comfort, in addition to their longevity.
The wooden form around which a shoe is fashioned. The last represents the shape and size of the intended wearer's foot.
A most important characteristic of leather as far as the shoe trade is concerned is that it has a fibrous structure, which allows it to transmit water vapour (i.e. perspiration). Leather breathes and controls the foot's temperature, permeating out the foot's moisture. The leather industry normally refers to a hide as coming from a large animal (such as a cow, elephant, buffalo) and it is necessary to cut and divide a hide in order to assist subsequent processing. A skin can come from four sources:-
- Small or young animals (e.g. calf, sheep, goat, pig).
- Reptiles (e.g. snake, crocodile, lizard)
- Animals or mammals, where the hair is left on as a feature, such as calf, pony, reindeer, or antelope.
- Birds (such as ostrich).
- The preparation and tanning of the hides and skins
- The procss of finishing the leather.
Leather sole where the stitching is hidden in a channel - see the image. This is more often seen in more premium footwear - the technique provides a cleaner aesthetic for the sole of the shoe.
This construction was developed from the methods used by North American Indians. A moccasin construction produces a very light, flexible and comfortable shoe with a distinctive appearance. A 'bag' of leather is formed by hand stitching an apron to a vamp. This bag is dampened and then forced on to the last to form the shape of the shoe. The sole is then stitched or glued to the formed upper part. Because the soft leather goes round the foot, forming a flexible and adaptable 'bag' a moccasin is a exceptionally comfortable.
A style of shoe where the two flaps of leather with the piercings for the laces ("quarters") are stitched together at the bottom underneath the vamp. The laced area opens in a closed-throat v-shape and does not allow as much adjustment or 'give' around the instep as the alternative open-throat Derby style. Also known as a Balmoral.
General AdviceOn the first few occasions wear your new shoes in dry conditions. Thereafter, try to avoid wearing the same shoes on successive days. It prolongs their life and helps to keep them smart and comfortable. Keep them on shoe-trees whenever you can and always use a shoe horn.
Wet ShoesNever dry wet shoes near fires, radiators or hot pipes. Slow natural drying at normal room temperature is best. The moisture absorbed by the leather during wear needs at least 24 hours to evaporate naturally. Stuffing with newspaper will help to absorb the moisture and reframe the shoe.
CleaningGood calf, grain and kid leathers deserve good treatment. Always clean regularly with a brush or damp cloth to remove all traces of dirt before applying a good quality shoe cream or polish of the correct colour.
Suede ShoesAfter removing all dirt when dry, brush up the nap using a rubber or stiff bristled suede brush. Stains may be carefully removed with a proprietary solvent cleaner. Bald patches can be restored with fine sand paper.
Nubuck Leather ShoesShould be wiped with a cloth dipped in slightly soapy warm water.
Patent LeatherClean with a damp cloth or use a good quality proprietary patent leather spray.
- Clicking This is a process where the skins, hides or man-made materials are cut into the shoe upper sections.
- Closing To produce an upper, the various upper sections are stitched together.
- Bottom Stock Preparation This is where the process of cutting and preparing bottom components (such as soles and insoles) takes place.
- Lasting Gathering and shaping the assembled uppers on the last and fixing the upper on to the insole.
- Making A number of processes by which heels and soles are attached to the lasted shoe.
- Finishing Where the process of improving the durability and appearance of the shoe by various operations such as bottom securing and edge trimming.
- Vegetable Tannage Use is made of water containing natural tanning extracted from plant leaves, barks, etc to produce the tanning liquor. The most commonly used is the mimosa tanning from the wattle tree Vegetable tanning is quite a lengthy process producing relatively dense, firm or solid leather for use in shoe sole leathers, bags, lining leathers and belts.
- Mineral Tannage This can be divided into full chrome tanned, semi chrome tanned and chrome re-tanned. Use is made of mineral salts, such as Chromium Sulphate, to produce a tanning liquor. This process takes 24 hours and initially gives the leather a pale duck egg blue colour. The type of leather produced is soft or resilient , used for shoe upper leather, glove and soft sole leathers (for example, ladies shoes or slipper soles) to give flexibility. The priorities in tanning to produce the required finished leather are :
- Choice of hide or skin.
- Choice of the method of tannage.
- Preparation of the tanning liquors.
- Careful control of the time, temperature and strength of the liquor into which the hide or skin is immersed.
- Choice or type of the finished look required.
The vamp refers to the front center part of a shoe's upper. In some shoes (like the Derby style) the vamp is extended in order to form the shoe's tongue.